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November 19, 2015 – November 25, 2015

Coal and Cattle

On November 24, 1883, the Washington Territorial Legislature established Kittitas County out of the northern portion of Yakima County. The land that was eventually designated Kittitas County was originally part of Ferguson County, which existed only briefly from 1863 to 1865, before the first wave of non-Indian settlers began to arrive.

Ellensburg was named county seat when Kittitas County was created, and the city incorporated a few weeks later. When Washington became a state in 1889, Kittitas County residents had high hopes that Ellensburg would become the state capital, due to its central location and growing population. Instead, a bitter rivalry between Ellensburg and North Yakima split the vote, handing the prize to Olympia. Statehood did spur the creation of public schools, and within a few years Ellensburg was home to what would later become Central Washington University.

Coal mining was an important factor in Kittitas County's early development, leading to the creation of towns like Roslyn and Cle Elum. By the 1930s the mining industry began to fade, but by then irrigation projects had enabled the Kittitas Valley's agricultural economy to grow and thrive. Kittitas County also became known as a fine area for winter recreation, but its cowboy and cattle-ranching culture remain an integral part of its identity.

Seasonal Battle

This week Washington was battered by windstorms that killed three and knocked out power to more than half a million people statewide. As history shows, November can be a cruel month, weather-wise. On November 19, 1911, the swollen Cedar River overtopped a timber-crib dam, sending floodwater downstream, causing flooding in Renton and, ironically, a water shortage in Seattle. The raging river tore apart the pipelines that supplied most of Seattle's water and those that powered the Cedar Falls hydroelectric plant, so for days much of the city was without drinking water and electricity.

On November 24, 1959, the Green River flooded in south King County, causing millions of dollars in damage. The flood also delayed construction of the Howard A. Hanson Dam, which was able to prevent another big flood shortly before its dedication in 1962. And it was 25 years ago this week, on November 25, 1990, that a Thanksgiving windstorm -- along with open hatchways -- sank the Lake Washington Floating Bridge.

News Then, History Now

Catholic History: On November 24, 1838, Father Francois Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrived at Fort Vancouver to spread the word of Catholicism among Hudson's Bay Company employees and indigenous peoples of the future Washington state. Fourteen years later, Demers -- then a bishop -- held the first Christian religious ceremony in the fledgling town of Seattle.

Murder Mystery: On November 19, 1856, Nisqually Chief Quiemuth was resting inside the Olympia home of Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens. Tired of war, Quiemuth had peacefully surrendered himself into custody soon after the capture of his half-brother Chief Leschi, and was awaiting transfer to Fort Steilacoom. Shortly before dawn he was shot and stabbed by an unknown assailant, and the murder remains unsolved.

There and Gone: On November 25, 1879, George Richardson received a land patent for his property at the south end of Lopez Island. The town of Richardson was one of the island's earliest economic hubs before dwindling in the later years of the twentieth century.

Moving On: In 1901 former Seattle police chief William Meredith -- who had just lost his job because of accusations of corruption made by theater owner John Considine -- attempted to kill Considine in Pioneer Square, but was himself gunned down inside the G. O. Guy drugstore there. Although the press portrayed Considine as the assailant, he was found not guilty of murder on November 21, 1901, and went on to become a noted and respected member of Seattle society.

Game Day Exclusive: On November 20, 1903, Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph attended a University of Washington football game, which he greatly enjoyed. Less than a half century later, on November 25, 1948, Puget Sound sports fans also welcomed a new experience when they watched the region's first wide-audience television broadcast -- a high school football match between West Seattle and Wenatchee on KRSC-TV.

Strange and Elusive: On November 24, 1969, the first Sasquatch tracks were sighted in Stevens County. Exactly two years later, "Dan Cooper" (better known as D. B.) hijacked a 727 jetliner and parachuted into the unknown.

Quote of the Week

Don't squat with your spurs on.

                                         --Will Rogers

Image of the Week

On November 24, 1906, fire struck Seattle's Grand Opera House. Rebuilt as the Grand Theatre, it was destroyed by another fire in 1917. Today it is a parking garage.

Today in Washington History      RSS Feed

In first election by Americans in the West, the Corps of Discovery votes to winter on the south side of the Columbia River on November 24, 1805.

Father Francois (or Francis) N. Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers arrive at Fort Vancouver on November 24, 1838.

Squire's Opera House, Seattle's first theater, opens on November 24, 1879.

Washington Territorial Legislature establishes Kittitas County on November 24, 1883.

Newsboys in Seattle form union on November 24, 1892.

Armed men hold up a Northern Pacific train in Washington's first train robbery on November 24, 1892.

Fire burns Seattle's Grand Opera House on November 24, 1906.

Birth of Redmond's 300th resident, Ernest Alexander Adams III, on November 24, 1912, makes possible incorporation of City of Redmond.

The new Seeley Theatre in Pomeroy opens on November 24, 1913.

Mack Theatre in Port Angeles opens on November 24, 1922.

Marcelino Julian kills six men and wounds 13 people during a rampage through Seattle's Chinatown on November 24, 1932.

Seattle morticians John F. Hennessy and Earl J. Cassedy mysteriously disappear on November 24, 1944.

Election Board of Mason County on November 24, 1952, certifies election creating Port of Hoodsport.

Green River flood devastates valley around Kent beginning on November 24, 1959.

Sasquatch tracks are sighted in Bossburg in Stevens County on November 24, 1969.

Dan Cooper parachutes from skyjacked jetliner on November 24, 1971.

New Essays This Week       RSS Feed

Ida Ballasiotes files initiative that will become the nation's first "Three Strikes, You're Out" law with Washington Secretary of State's office on January 6, 1993.

Yarrow Point incorporates on June 15, 1959.

Wineberry, Jesse Calvin (b. 1955)

Ruffner, Ginny (b. 1952)

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